We originally thought when we first started Gusto Wine Tours that this would be the busiest day of the year – Cantine Aperte (Open Wineries). We were also under the impression that only Umbria did this open day.
We were wrong on both counts. The world and his wife descend on the cantine on this day making it nigh on impossible to contemplate organising an intimate personal wine tour! We now know, of course that this special day is for every region of Italy – a chance for the public to visit the cantine of their region, or even pop across the borders and try something different!
I’d say that 95% of the public that visit the cantine are locals interspersed with very lucky, and, usually, slightly bemused tourists who probably more by luck than judgement find themselves in the right place at the right time!
If you want a true taste of the local life here, you don’t get a better chance than to visit one or more of the cantine on the last Sunday of May each year (29th this year).
Each participating cantina opens their doors at around 10am on the Sunday morning and most of them work hard to create a festival feel to the day. Some will have live music, all will have wine tasting and each cantina will offer something a little different in the way of food.
Here’s what you do:
Designate a driver (!)
Choose your first cantina.
Drive to the cantina and find somewhere to park – the earlier it is, the easier it is to find parking!
Before you start trying the wines you will need a glass!
There will be a little booth somewhere close by and you buy a souvenir glass with a hands-free pouch that you can hang around your neck with the glass in it, leaving you free to reach out for any food going!
You only have to buy one glass and pouch for the day, no matter how many cantine you clock up!
These are yours to keep for as long as you don’t break them! (We have an embarrassing amount of them at home!)
Each cantina has slightly different ‘rules’ but in general, the table wine will be freely available and you can help yourself to these – both rosso and bianco.
Some cantine will have a ticket system where you will pay for a batch of tickets that correspond with a tasting of their more expensive wines. Some places don’t charge, some do.
The food is varied and always good! Probably not the BEST day for vegetarians with the Umbrian speciality Porchetta in crisp rolls and the incomparable sausages on the grill, or if you go to Dionigi, close to the little village of Cantalupo – you will find, among all the above, roasted snails – a local speciality.
Some cantine offer walks through their vines, with little stops on the way to refresh yourselves with a little wine and grub!
Most places will have musical entertainment anything from a live hoedown to jazz in the garden!
This is an Italy-wide party for the whole family!
Some people organise minibuses for themselves & friends so there will be no problem with drinking and driving.
Three of our favourite places for Cantine Aperte –
Di Filippo, Cannara – From the live entertainment to the generous tastings of all their wines, from the walks through the vines to the fact that just about everyone can find a place to park … And then there’s the Porchetta…!
Dionigi, Nr Cantalupo, Bevagna – Music in the garden, great food, amazing wines and the table wines served in little barrels – the unbelievable views across the valley to Assisi and Mount Subasio.
Not so easy to park, but we found a spot ..big enough for our friends large motor-home – so not impossible!
Perticaia, Casale nr Montefalco – Has to be the best food spread around, Guido the owner is in there serving up local delicacies like farro soup, local cheese, frittata, risotto … really delicious and, of course the wines are excellent too.
This year, we are going to try and visit some new ones (for us).
We’d like to visit Terre Margaritelli in the Torgiano area. We’ve been meaning to go there for a long time and next Sunday will hopefully be a good opportunity to do just that!
Then, I think we’ll head back to our local area around Montefalco and visit our closest cantina – Fratelli Tocchi.
After that it’ll be off to kill two birds with one stone and we’ll check out Antonelli and their famed jazz in the garden and then walk next door to Fongoli, in our opinion, the prettiest cantina we’ve ever seen!
Most of the cantine will be open until around 7pm, plenty of time to try the wines of this area and have a wonderful, fun-filled day – and with any luck, the sun will keep shining on us!
Just a note, we’ve been visiting Cantine Aperte for a few years now and every year some things change – so what we experienced in past years may not be the case this year!